Marita Noon
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The State of The Union Address (SOTU) reminded me of the idiom, “on one hand, on the other hand.”

On one hand, President Obama extoled efforts to increase fuel efficiency to “help America wean itself off foreign oil.” He touted the new reality of “more oil produced at home than we buy from the rest of the world, the first time that's happened in nearly twenty years.” On the other hand, he promised to use his “authority to protect more of our pristine federal lands for future generations”—which is code for more national monuments and endangered species designations that will lock up federal lands from productive use.

Electricity and extreme poverty

Concern was expressed for Americans who “are working more than ever just to get by.” He wants to help Africans “double access to electricity and help end extreme poverty.” But his policies are limiting access to electricity in America and raising the cost (20% in the past 6 years). Higher-cost energy is the most punitive to those struggling “just to get by.”

The “Energy Cost Impacts on American Families, 2001-2013” report found: “Lower-income families are more vulnerable to energy costs than higher-income families because energy represents a larger portion of their household budgets, reducing the amount of income that can be spent on food, housing, health care, and other necessities. Nearly one-third of U.S. households had gross annual incomes less than $30,000 in 2011. Energy costs accounted for an average of 27% of their family budgets, before taking into account any energy assistance.” The report shows the 27% is an 11% increase over the 2001 energy cost impact. For households with an after-tax income higher than $50,000, the 2001 percentage was 5 and the 2013: 9—a 4% increase. For low- and middle-income families, energy costs are now consuming a portion of after-tax household income comparable to that traditionally spent on major categories such as housing, food, and health care—with black, Hispanic and senior households being hit especially hard.

All of the above

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Marita Noon

Marita Noon is Executive Director of Energy Makes America Great.